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Need an electronic handheld dictionary?

German translation on the move

An electronic handheld dictionary /electronic translator / German language translator - whatever you want to call it - is probably the ideal solution if you’re an avid traveller.

If you’re off to a German-speaking country whether on business or for pleasure, it's a great tool to have if you need to translate German on the move.

(Also helpful if you just need to surreptitiously look up a few German phrases under the table whilst in the company of German speakers!)

Lost without translation

Ever experienced that horrible feeling of standing in front of a sign in a foreign country, and not being able to work out what it means – at all?

How frustrating is that? And how stupid does it make you feel!

When an electronic handheld dictionary might help!

Electronic handheld dictionary

* Die Winzer Grüssen Ihre Gäste, Ausg'steck is" = "The vintners (wine makers) welcome their guests. We are open."

"Ausg'steckt" (= displayed) refers to the practice of hanging a bunch of greenery above the entrance to a a wine tavern, indicating that it's open for business. Traditionally serving their own wines, vintners alternate between periods of serving guests (2 to 3 weeks) before temporarily closing again to work in the fields.

In Austria these institutions are called "Heuriger", derived from the German words "heuer" & "heurig" ("this year/this year's"), and meaning "Serving this year's wine". Although German words, you'll hear "heuer" and "heurig" in Austria and Switzerland, rather than in Germany.

It might be telling me that the nearest bank is just around the corner or that the bus station has moved to a different location. How would you know?

It rather brings home to you just how communication is simply EVERYTHING! When you can’t talk to people and ask questions – in the bank, at the station, in the hotel, you’re simply lost.

We’ve come a long way since the “early days” of bulky automatic language translators with limited functionality.

Nowadays language meets high-tech digitalisation, and today’s electronic dictionaries pack an impressive range of features, and in manageably-sized packages.

So why might I choose an electronic translator over my smartphone – or even a classic German phrasebook or paperback German dictionary?

Well, today’s electronic handheld dictionaries offer a whole host of features, such as:

Instant word, phrase and text translations, with pronunciation guides

Automatic speech recognition – just speak the text you want translated

Extensive library of German terms and German phrasebook translations

Personal interpreter functions – speak into the translator and get an instant, audio German translation which gets you understood

Personal private tutor functions - German Language learning programmes including games, tests and quizzes.

MP3 player functionality - listen to audio books and music on the move

E-book functionality – install and read your favourite books at any time


TIP! Not a gadget-person and don’t fancy another piece of electronic equipment? Then look for a dictionary app to download to your smartphone - my favourite is Leo.

Electronic handheld dictionary vs. dictionary software

Now a little clarification here: Don’t confuse an electronic handheld dictionary with dictionary software.

Many compilers of hardcopy dictionaries (such as Oxford, Duden or Webster) also offer their dictionary content (monolingual or bilingual) in electronic form.

You can either purchase the content on CD and install on your PC, or pay a subscription and download content directly. The content is usually far more extensive than you’d get on a hand-held electronic dictionary because it’s aimed at a different, more specialised audience - usually professional linguists or people dealing with foreign languages on a regular basis.

So, now you've got your electronic handheld dictionary all that remains is to work out where you want to go........Why not try the Germany Travel Guide by German Places, a Germany travel portal with information, sights, pictures and tips for tourists with destination Germany.

And if you're moving to Germany then an electronic handheld dictionary could be just the thing to help when you first arrive.


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Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna,  Austria.  I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?